The Forest (2016)2:11 PM
Where Fear GrowsI didn't really have any expectations for this film - I saw it had a Rotten Tomatoes rating of around 10% and kind of though 'It's January, what do we expect'. However, when actually reading and watching the reviews of the film, they may have been generally negative but most critics did mention that this is one of the better January horrors we have received and I have to agree! For a first time director and an original story, The Forest is a satisfying film. It is seriously flawed and I won't be giving this a high rating but The Forest is much more solid compared to most January releases we had this year.
The Forest is the directorial debut from Jason Zada and stars Natalie Dormer (Game Of Thrones, The Hunger Games) and Taylor Kinney (Chicago Fire, The Other Woman). "A woman goes into Japan's Suicide Forest to find her twin sister, and confronts supernatural terror". The Forest was the first horror of 2016 in the US, the UK are only just getting it now...is it as bad as every other January horror movie or does this one have some substance and true scares?
I think the concept and scope of this film are really its strengths. Horror films these days are often set in Western cultures and are very often set in either one house or a very small town or village. However, The Forest takes the horror outside and to Japan - things we haven't really seen done in a while - I can't remember a recent horror that hasn't been confined to just a house or town. I like the whole idea of the film as well - for some reason, The Forest doesn't sound like a dumb concept - the idea of a forest known for suicide is pretty creepy and deep - it brings a depth to horror films that isn't usually there. Even though the film may not execute this strong concept perfectly, it does a good job and just for daring to be different, I give it praise.
One way the film doesn't dare to be different though is the way it tries to scare you - the main way is through jump scares. There are quite a few jump scares in the film but I think around 50% or less are only effective. Even though jump scares have become far too common - I do miss them when they are not there and I think they are a key component to a film being scary (they create adrenaline, suspense etc). I also don't think any of the jump scares in the film were just there to be a jump scare - the only dumb one was a tourist slamming on the taxi window. The Forest does try to scare you psychologically with the whole idea of The Forest and I have to admit, it does make you think but I haven't carried on thinking about it since I left the cinema. One thing I did quite like was the editing choices and scare that surrounded the view-master - this was quite unique and I thought it was done really well and did provide a good scare. The thing that was disappointing about the scares though was that they just felt of very low value - they reminded me of the scary Snapchat filters you can get.
I think the plot for the film is pretty interesting - however, I think it is a little corny how the twins have some secret feeling between the two. Putting that bizarre mystical element aside, I think that 'feeling' worked quite well - especially towards the end of the film. One thing that I didn't care for much was the flashbacks - the film starts in Japan and there is a whole sequence of Dormer looking out of a taxi window and it switching back and forth between different flashbacks. This is a pretty cool editing choice at first but then it becomes tiresome and you start to want to be caught up already as it slows the film down - you just want to be in the forest getting scared! The film also doesn't really tie loose ends at the end - it doesn't explain what happened to certain characters and just leaves the door a little too open - not in a way that we could get a sequel but a way that leaves you wanting answers that you should have had in a first film.
The acting was a little middle-of-the-road. Natalie Dormer had her strong moments and her bad moments - sometimes her performance was good, sometimes it was cringe-worthy. Dormer is a likeable lead though and I thought her character was well developed. Dormer also joins the list of stars who have played two characters in the same film. SPOILER - the biggest thing I didn't like about Dormer's character is that this film goes down the route of killing off the character you've been routing for the whole time. Earlier on in the film, I actually thought to myself 'this isn't the type of character to die in a horror - she's too smart, sassy and just seems better than that'. However, I was wrong. The other acting in the film was all of a similar quality but no one stood out for being particularly bad. I have to give a shoutout to a Japanese actress who gave one of the most creepy smiles I have seen in a horror film.
The Forest is a pretty solid horror film - it doesn't always succeed in being scary and does have some rocky performances but I think it is a watchable and generally entertaining film. The concept is a lot more sophisticated than your typical 'spooky house/doll/creature' concept that we are used to these days and the film has a much wider scope - we actually get to go outside and to a different country and aren't confined to just a house. The Forest isn't anything to write home about but it is an overall solid film. If a forest is a 10/10, The Forest is probably a growing woodland.
What did you think of THE FOREST? Do you think it is a cut above your typical January horror film? - COMMENT BELOW
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